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Avnor W. Bemis

This profile was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2004, and reprinted in the July/August 2016 issue.

Avnor W. Bemis 676B75 Age 50 Cr110,000
8 terms ex-Rogue
Streetwise-3, Bribery-2, Carousing-2, Dagger-2, Demolition-2, Auto Pistol-1, Forgery-1, Grav Veh-1, Liaison-1
Possessions: auto pistol, dagger, high passage

A prime example that nature sometimes trumps nurture, Avnor W.1 Bemis was raised in a very good family, had a decidedly normal upbringing, and became a rather bad apple.

Eschewing advice to enter university and ignoring suggestions about pursuing normal employment, Avnor joined a group of like-minded fellows and began a career in automatic teller machine withdrawals, unauthorized withdrawals to be specific. Using the knowledge gleaned from chemistry class, Avnor was the group’s ‘chef’. He ‘cooked’ up the ‘soup’, otherwise known as nitroglycerin, and applied it to the machines in question. A couple of close calls involving the ‘soup’ taught Avnor to transport the stuff as little as possible. The gang would scout out a location, physically secure the machine, and then call Avnor onto the scene. Carrying the ‘soup’ in a hollow tennis ball on a string around his neck, Avnor would arrive, blow the machine, and the gang would make off with the loot.

The numbers of teller machines that can be secured and blown in this manner are limited. Avnor and his fellows soon found that they needed to move around quite a bit, not just to avoid the police, but also to find new targets. The gang eventually drifted towards the city holding the planet’s starport. There, several members of the gang were picked up on outstanding warrants involving vagrancy, petty theft, and unpaid bills. Avnor, who had been careful not to foul his tracks too much, paid an on-the-spot ‘fine’ to the patrolman for ‘consorting with known criminals’ and was free to go.

Free of any ties to the original ATM gang, Avnor put himself about in the city’s Startown section as a cracksman. He was careful in accepting offers of employment, always looking into the background and reputation of the parties involved. For a time, he worked as an assistant for other, better trained cracksmen. Avnor even held several straight jobs during this period, usually involving menial work of some sort. He would rather get straight work to make ends meet than risk it all on a lousy caper.

Avnor’s reputation slowly grew, as did the earnings from the various jobs he was connected with. The manner in which Avnor participated in those jobs varied. In some, he was involved from inception onwards while in others, he acted as a one-time specialist only, appearing once the target was secure and needed cracking. In a small, but growing, number of capers, Avnor only participated on the periphery by assisting involved with finding personnel and equipment. As before, he lived frugally. He also wisely began investing small sums in several businesses around Startown.

As he became better known to his peers, he also became better known to the police. Despite his generally low profile and sedate lifestyle, Avnor had his share of ‘chats’ with law enforcement. He never served any time, however, nor was he ever indicted. A critical eye for capers, a dedication to planning, and a few judicious ‘donations’ kept him out of the courthouse as well as the jailhouse.

During Avnor’s forties, the illegal side of Startown suffered the loss of its ‘Coordinator’. That gentleman, with the help of several large sophonts, had kept peace on the streets and among the people of Avnor’s ilk. The ‘Coordinator’ had been relatively benign, content to take his share of illegal proceeds via his virtual control of fencing and letting the rest slide. After his death, several factions began fighting over which fill the role of ‘Coordinator’. Startown became dangerous for criminals as hits, beatings, and even tips to the police increased. Avnor weathered this period by lowering his profile further and limiting most of his work to ‘fixing’, setting up others with the personnel, equipment, and information they needed for a job. Despite these precautions, Avnor still found it necessary to begin carrying a pistol, something he had never done before.

When the Startown ‘gang war’ finally sputtered out, intelligent observers like Avnor realized an era was over. The murders and carnage spun out from the struggle had finally focused public attention on Startown in general and crime in particular. New laws were drawn up to deal with ‘habituals’, as career criminals were labeled. Increased pressure on the police meant increased pressure on Avnor and his peers. Surveillance became an everyday annoyance.

Avnor wisely decided to move on to greener pastures. His intentions were to disappear from Startown and reappear as another man in some distant city. There he would either use his savings to invest in a few businesses or pick up the cracking game again. He slowly liquidated his percentages in various Startown businesses and began to lessen his involvement in any capers that came his way. His refusal to assist with one job nearly proved his undoing, however.

He declined to help plan a heist at a bonded warehouse, and the people he had turned down were caught. They, in turn, ratted on him for several small jobs, some of which were over a decade old. Avnor dodged the officers sent to arrest by mere chance and then laid low for weeks during the manhunt that ensued. With the help of a few hefty bribes and some gaffe paperwork, he was eventually able to cross the port’s extrality line and take ship off-world. To his anger, Avnor was forced to leave behind a substantial portion of his fortune when he fled.

Avnor currently presents himself as a speculative trader and is rather good at it. He purchases goods, arranges for their shipment, travels with them to their destination, and sells them on arrival. He prefers to use tramp traders for this. Unlike larger corporate-owned vessels, he can usually either bicker down the freight rates or cut the free trader in on a piece of the action. He travels light, usually on a middle passage, and mingles with passengers and crew easily.

Avnor has been keeping tabs on the situation back on his homeworld. Although he landed at the starport there, he has yet to cross the extrality line. Law enforcement did confiscate some of the money he left when he fled, but a substantial amount still seems to remain. Avnor is suspicious about this, however. A few years ago he sent someone across the extrality line to withdraw a small portion of the money from the bank deposit box where it had been stashed. Although that individual had the proper paperwork and ID, she was picked up for questioning immediately after leaving the bank. Avnor believes the authorities are using some of his money as bait. He believes they don’t know about all his deposit boxes, but he doesn’t know which boxes they do know about. He is still pondering a solution to his situation.

1 The ‘W’ stands for Whipsnade, the sad legacy of a maternal great-grandfather.